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Famous Trials



The internet may be young, but the list of once great web resources that are no longer is far too long. It is always exciting then to find a long-running, self-maintained website that is still updated with content both useful and interesting. Even better if that resource is also perfect for a legal audience. Since 1996 Doug Linder, the Elmer N. Powell Peer Professor of Law at University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, has created, cultivated, and updated his Famous Trials website.

Originally started to serve as a text for Professor Linder’s Famous Trials Seminar course, the site has grown over time to include trials from the Trial of Socrates to George Zimmerman, and many of the world’s most famous trials in between. Each trial begins with a narrative of the case, written to be both engaging and informative. Then, a true treasure trove of material awaits the researcher. Depending on the case, you may original photos and documents, trial transcripts, images of evidence, and even interviews and commentary about the case at the time it was tried. 

After hearing of this site (hat tip to former Nota Bene blogger Matt Mantel), I was immediately captivated by the tale of the trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted of espionage and executed in 1953. This section includes not only the story of the trial, but also trial transcripts, photos of evidence used against the Rosenbergs, even the judge’s sentencing statement, and final letter of the Rosenbergs to their sons.  I can’t wait to delve into the next famous trial, and I’m delighted to have found a deep well of great reading for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Whether you are interested in finding primary materials from recent trials, or just fascinated by the tales of many of the greatest trials in history, you will be glad that Professor Linder has devoted much of his career to developing this outstanding resource.  

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